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A study of the ion expansion characteristics in plasmas created from carbon, copper, and gold targets using a 1‐GW, 5‐ns neodymium glass laser is presented. The ion expansion velocity is found to vary with the distance of the probe from the target and the variation is observed to be different for low and high atomic number (Z) targets. Analysis shows that the strikingly different variation for low and high Z targets is a manifestation of their different recombination characteristics during plasma expansion.